Palden Choedron, one of a group of 14 courageous Tibetan women who became known as the “singing nuns” after they smuggled out a recording of patriotic and religious songs from their prison cells, has arrived in exile in Dharamsala, India. After her release from an eight-year sentence in Drapchi prison, Palden Choedron attempted to escape from Tibet but was caught and served three years in a “reform through labour” camp before her second, successful escape from Tibet and arrival in India on September 1.
The arrests of Palden Choedron and the other nuns occurred during a time of intense security in the Lhasa following a series of demonstrations in the Tibetan capital beginning in 1987. Martial law was imposed in Lhasa in March, 1989 and peaceful demonstrations were dealt with harshly by the authorities.
Palden Choedron’s sentence was due to come to an end when she joined the 13 other nuns in making the tape-recording of songs in their prison cells in 1993. The songs, in praise of the Dalai Lama and of their country, were intended to show their families and friends outside the prison that their spirits had not been broken despite the harsh conditions in Drapchi. All of the nuns suffered severe torture, and one of the 14, Ngawang Lochoe, died as a result. Palden Choedron’s sentence was extended; she remained in prison for a further five years, and was released in October, 1998.